Sherlock often punned on the “sensational” nature of Watson’s chronicle. In his mind, the cases were about factual details and logic deductions. The literary rendition of them misrepresented the true nature of detective work, if not outright betraying it. Apparently Watson, also Doyle behind the scene as the real author, despite never refuting Sherlock directly, held a different view. And this unique short story was the strongest objection to the almighty logic and deduction yet.
In this adventure, Sherlock failed. Or worse, he was mercilessly mocked by Doyle. What happened in this story is NOT a crime, and Sherlock doomed himself from the very beginning by assuming one. While making all the “reasonable” observations and deductions, Sherlock erred on the conjecture and the ultimate truth. Instead of a scheming and blackmailing first husband, it was a mix-race teenage girl protected fiercely by a loving mother. Nonetheless, we should not fault Sherlock too much by making the mistake. After all, his world almost exclusively consisted of sinister crimes and schemes, and he was honestly humbled when the truth came out.
The adventure of yellow face was unique and refreshing because it was about love, protection and racial acceptance in the often crime-ridden Sherlock world. The story was written over a century ago, and the message couldn’t be more relevant even in 2017.